The row within Google's Ethical AI team is set to escalate after a second researcher was fired in the space of three months. Lead artificial intelligence ethics researcher Margaret Mitchell was fired on Friday following the tech giant's controversial dismissal in December of her black colleague Dr. Timnit Gebru. Gebru, an outspoken diversity advocate and well-respected researcher in the field of ethics and the use of artificial intelligence, said she was fired from Google for sending an internal email accusing the company of "silencing marginalized voices." In a statement about Mitchell's dismissal, Google said it had "confirmed that there were multiple violations of our code of conduct, as well as of our security policies, which included the exfiltration of confidential business-sensitive documents and private data of other employees." Sources suggest that Mitchell may have been looking for corporate correspondence that could have supported Gebru's claim of harassment and discrimination.
For the second time in three months, a prominent woman researcher on ethics in artificial intelligence says Google fired her. On Friday, researcher Margaret Mitchell said she had been fired from the company's AI lab, Google Brain, where she previously co-led a group working on ethical approaches to artificial intelligence. Her former co-leader of that group, Timnit Gebru, departed Google in December. Gebru said she had been fired after refusing to retract or remove her name from a research paper that urged caution with AI systems that process text, including technology Google uses in its search engine. Gebru has said she believes that disagreement may have been used as a pretext for removing her because of her willingness to speak out about Google's poor treatment of Black employees and women.
When it comes to artificial intelligence, it seems that Google and ethics don't mix. The tech giant is back in the news this week after Margaret Mitchell, who until Friday worked as the lead of Google's Ethical AI team, announced her firing via Twitter. Mitchell's unceremonious canning follows on the heels of Google firing the prominent AI ethicist Dr. Timnit Gebru in December. "I'm fired," wrote Mitchell in her short statement. We reached out to Google to confirm that Mitchell was indeed fired on Friday, and to ask why she was fired.
Google is investigating an artificial intelligence researcher after it detected that "an account had exfiltrated thousands of files" and shared them externally. Margaret Mitchell, a co-lead of the Ethical AI unit, has been locked out of Google's corporate systems over the matter. But apparently they've told her she will be locked out for at least a few days. The investigation follows the acrimonious exit last month of another prominent AI researcher, Timnit Gebru, who said Mitchell has been told that she'll be locked out for a few days. According to an Axios source, Mitchell used automated scripts to search her messages for examples of discriminatory treatment toward Gebru.
Google has fired the co-lead of the company's ethical AI unit, Margaret Mitchell, on the heels of the removal of Timnit Gebru. Mitchell, an ethical artificial intelligence (AI) expert who has previously worked on machine learning bias, race and gender diversity, and language models for image capture, was hired by Google to co-lead the firm's Ethical AI team with Gebru -- a post that has lasted roughly two years, as noted by Reuters. On Friday, Mitchell announced her departure in a tweet, simply saying "I'm fired." Google said in a statement that following a review, "we confirmed that there were multiple violations of our code of conduct, as well as of our security policies, which included the exfiltration of confidential business-sensitive documents and private data of other employees." Mitchell has been the subject of an investigation by Google and was locked out of her corporate account for roughly five weeks. Reports suggest that the scientist may have been looking for correspondence and evidence relating to Gebru's removal.